Gernot Abl shows how to make money from video games with ASX launch of e-sports company

Gernot Abl's children spend more time watching other people play video games than regular television – and they're not the only ones.

Almost 150 million people across the world watch e-sports, with revenue leaping 25 per cent to $US500 million ($712.6 million) in the past year, according to Deloitte.

ESports Mogul users buy digital coins to form a prize pool to compete with other users.
ESports Mogul users buy digital coins to form a prize pool to compete with other users. 

Mr Abl is determined to ensure Australia can grab a slice of the pie and on Wednesday launched the first ever pure e-sports company on the ASX.

His company, eSports Mogul, will hit the Australian market through a reverse takeover of micro-cap resource company, Volta Mining.

The company completed a $2 million convertible note fundraising in January.
The company completed a $2 million convertible note fundraising in January. 

Other listed players have entered the space. Australia's biggest bookmaker Tabcorp began offering markets for tournaments of online video games, through its wagering website Luxbet, last April.

But Mr Abl is quick to distance himself from gambling, even though eSports Mogul users buy digital coins to form a prize pool to compete with other users. They can then exchange winnings for cash if they wish.

"Our platform is an online tournament matchmaking platform," he said.

"We facilitate me in Beaumaris and you, wherever you are, playing head to head for $10-$15 on our selves, we are betting on ourselves, and betting is the wrong word.

ESports Mogul is targeting professional computer gamers such as James Clayton Eubanks.
ESports Mogul is targeting professional computer gamers such as James Clayton Eubanks. Photo: New York Times

"It's a skill-based tournament."

Mr Abl says it is not his intention to allow bookmakers to take bets on users of eSports Mogul.

"I want to steer right away from that. It starts to cloud what we are. We are a facility, a platform that allows professional e-sports players to monetise their skills."

ESports Mogul has secured an exclusive 10-year licence to operate the online platform of eSports Hero – a New York-domiciled company – across the Asia-Pacific region, including China. Games it offers include Halo, Call of Duty, FIFA and Counter-Strike.

The company completed a $2 million convertible note fundraising in January, and plans to issue a prospectus in April to raise an additional $3 million to $5 million ahead of the proposed relisting of Volta in May.

The new entity will be called, subject to shareholder approval, eSports Hero Asia Pacific Limited and is eyeing south-east Asia for its initial expansion.

Mr Abl said the company planned to use established streaming platforms, such as Twitch.tv, to drive traffic to eSports Mogul's website, which he said was without peer in the region.

"In terms of peer-to-peer skilled gaming, we will be the first in Asia-Pacific and there might be one or two competitors that aren't nearly as advanced as we are, so it's very, very fresh.

"We are looking at taking as much of that pie as we can in the next 18-24 months."

Mr Abl hopes to eventually host live tournaments at venues such as Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. Companies such as Coca-Cola, Red Bull and Microsoft have sponsored similar events across the globe.

"We have had early discussions with concert promoters already. I'm not going to name names but it's one of the big two and they are interested in exploring eSports and they see it as a long-term vision."

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